Supreme Court Building

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Supreme Court Building

The Supreme Court Building is located at 1 First Street, NE (across the street from the Capitol) and was designed by architect Cass Gilbert. It rises four stories (92 feet) above ground. The cornerstone was laid on October 13, 1932, and construction completed in 1935, having cost $94,000 under the $9 million budget authorized by Congress. "The building was designed on a scale in keeping with the importance and dignity of the Court and the Judiciary as a coequal, independent branch of the United States Government, and as a symbol of 'the national ideal of justice in the highest sphere of activity."

The public façade of the Supreme Court Building is made of marble quarried from Vermont, and that of the non-public-facing courtyards, Georgian marble. Most of the interior spaces are lined with Alabama marble, except for the Courtroom itself, which is lined with Spanish ivory vein marble. For the Courtroom's 24 columns, "Gilbert felt that only the ivory buff and golden marble from the Montarrenti quarries near Siena, Italy" would suffice. To this end, in May 1933, he petitioned the Italian Premier, Benito Mussolini, "to ask his assistance in guaranteeing that the Siena quarries sent nothing inferior to the official sample marble".

Photo 73, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building

Photo 95, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building

Authority of Law by James Earle Fraser

Photo 76a, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building

Statue next to stairs.

Contemplation of Justice by James Earle Fraser

Fraser described the female figure to the left of the main steps as “a realistic conception of what I consider a heroic type of person with a head and body expressive of the beauty and intelligence of justice.” A book of laws supports her left arm and a figure of blindfolded Justice is in her right hand.

Photo 77, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building

John Marshall sculpture

Bronze sculpture of John Marshall, by William Wetmore Story. It is located at the Supreme Court Building interior.

Photo 79, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building

Frieze, copy of one of those in the courtroom

Photo 82, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building


Photo 90, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building

Bust of John Jay, first Chief Justice

Photo 94, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building

West Pediment.
The West Pediment, the sculptural group of nine figures above the entrance to the Supreme Court Building, is the work of artist Robert I. Aitken (1878 - 1949).

Photo 97, Nov 2011

Supreme Court Building

East Pediment
This sculptural group was designed by Hermon A. MacNeil (1866-1947), an artist who studied under the masters of classical architecture and design. Cass Gilbert (1867 - 1934), the building’s architect, worked closely with MacNeil from 1932 to 1934 to create the thirteen symmetrically balanced allegorical figures.

Photo 104a, Nov 2011

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